Whether you’ve recently invested in a new set of wheels or have noticed your faithful bicycle starting to flag a little, perhaps you’re wondering: can I make my bike go faster, without buying a new one or investing in fancy accessories?
When the need for speed overcomes you, it’s likely you want to put your pedal to the mettle as soon as possible, so we’ve compiled a list of quick and easy ways to give your bike a little boost in a matter of minutes. They’re also free, too!
Everything we’ve suggested can be performed from the comfort of your home, and won’t require any specialist or expensive equipment. You might need a couple of tools, but you’ll probably already have them. If not, borrow a friend’s!
Before you hit the road next, consider performing a full inspection of your bike according to our tips, and see if it makes a difference. You could even go for a ride, adjust, then ride again, to really test it out!
Fast And Free Bike Upgrades
Okay, if you’re a cycling professional we’d bet you’ve already done all of these, but it doesn’t hurt to check.
Performing these regular maintenance checks will keep your bike on top form, and maximize your speed when riding:
Clean That Bike Up
Neglected to scrub up your wheels recently? When your tire tracks are sad and clogged up with dirt or your drivetrain (the mechanisms that create motion e.g pedals, chain, cogs) is grimy, you’re reducing the efficiency of your bike significantly.
Cleaning everything up regularly can be as simple as a swift wipe-down once you’ve finished a ride, and you can save the real maintenance for a thorough tune-up every couple of weeks. Be more frequent if you’re an every day rider!
This isn’t a guide on how to properly clean your bike, so we won’t be breaking it down for you, but we do recommend you only use cycle-friendly cleaning products, and avoid anything that could cause your fragile components to rust or break.
Check Tire Pressure
Our simplest tip, but it offers the biggest payout. A PSI of around 90 is what you’re looking for, though most tires can handle up to 120. Maybe we sound contradictory, but you’ll have a much better control with an increased grip at this lower pressure.
Tires that are too soft causes more resistance whilst your wheels are in motion, forcing you to pedal harder to keep up your desired pace. You’re also at a much greater risk of pinch flat, where the internal tubing penetrates from within.
Once you’re at the optimum pressure for you, you’ll find the ride more comfortable, allowing you to turn more quickly, react faster and increase the amount of time you’re able to cycle before having to head home with super achy muscles.
Are Your Gears Right?
Gears that haven’t been properly configured are a one way ticket to a bad bike ride, especially when it comes to conquering those steeper inclines. They’ll slow you down when you should be speeding up, and vice versa.
Whilst the actual process of gear adjustment is too complicated for us to get into here, we did go to the trouble of finding you a handy five minute Youtube video. It walks you through step-by-step, and you can find it here.
Fortunately, you don’t need any specialist equipment to do so, and with the above guide, though it can be a bit tricky the first time, you’ll soon be on your way to whipping through the wind again.
Lubricate The Chain
Alright, now your ride is polished to perfection, it’s time to lube that chain up. Increasing the efficiency of your drivechain by far, all of that effort you put into pedaling will more than pay off if your ride is naturally smoother.
When we say well-lubed, we don’t mean slopping on a whole bottle until your chain looks like you’ve slathered it in Vaseline. Very gradually and gently add your lube to the chain’s inside whilst rotating its cranks (by turning the pedals).
Once all done, be sure to get rid of any excess with a rag or cloth - trust us, you don’t want oil on your hands, or the chance to get your precious fingers caught in the intricate workings of the drivetrain!
Check And Tighten Your Brakes
Guaranteeing your ability to come to a stop properly might sound counterproductive to increasing your speed, but hear us out a minute. With well-maintaned brakes, you can afford to use them more sparingly, keeping up momentum around corners.
Cast your eye over the cables. Do they look at all worn out or stretched? This doesn’t relate to your speed as much, but it will certainly keep you safe. Regularly checking your brakes as you clean your bike is always a good idea!
In the colder seasons, the brake pads especially are more likely to succumb to wear and tear. Ensuring they are always equidistant from the rims at all times will provide you with consistent stopping you can trust, and therefore use to your advantage.
Correct Your Saddle Height
Forgive us for stating the obvious, but riding with your seat set too high or too low is bound to slow you down. No matter how hard you pedal, you’ll never achieve your maximum potential this way, and leave yourself vulnerable to pain or injury.
Generally speaking, the distance between the bottom bracket of your bike and the very top of the saddle is easy to calculate. Simply measure your inseam and deduct 10 centimeters - that’s how high up you should be sitting.
Even the most experienced veteran cyclists can be guilty of missing this simple trick, so if you’ve tried all of the above adjustments to no avail, it’s worth a shot. Get your tape measure out and have a look!
Everything we’ve suggested will not only improve the overall efficiency of your bike, which is conducive to speed increase, but keep it - and you - on the road for as long as possible. Happy riding!